A Story for a Verse - Sriharsha

साहित्ये सुकुमारवस्तुनि दृढन्यायग्रहग्रन्थिले
तर्के वा मयि संविधातरि समं लीलायते भारती ।
शय्या वास्तु मृदूत्तरच्छदवती दर्भाङ्कुरैरास्तृता
भूमिर्वा हृदयङ्गमो यदि पतिस्तुल्या रतिर्योषिताम् ॥

In the previous story we were introduced to Sriharsha, the preeminent poet and scholar of Sanskrit. We also learned that he went to the court of Jayachandra and sought a debate with Udayanacharya, the resident scholar. His father’s defeat at the scholar’s hands was still fresh in Sriharsha’s mind. Seeking victory, he marshaled all his logical skills and knowledge of various shastras and invited the scholar to debate.

But what awaited him – mockery! Sriharsha was famous as a poet by then, and Udayanacharya poked fun at him for this. He said that engaging in a logical debate with him isn’t easy like composing pretty poems. Sriharsha did not take this lying down. As though waiting for this opportunity, he composed this poem impromptu:

Be it delicate poetry or knotty logic,
My speech glides effortlessly through it all.
It’s like this: If the husband is co-operative,
the setting doesn’t count –
Soft mattress or grass-laden ground,
The wife satisfies him thoroughly

The comparison is apt at so many levels: delicate poetry is akin to a soft mattress, while knotty logic resembles the bare ground, strewn with sharp blades of grass. And Sriharsha's speech, like a willing wife satisfying her husband, is oblivious to discrimination. That Sriharsha could think of this idea and compose a verse on it impromptu was enough for Udayanacharya to accept defeat, without actually having a debate. He composed many verses in praise of him. The king Jayachandra too was impressed.

Translated from Kannada by Shashi Kiran B. N.
(The original article is from the anthology Kavitegondu Kathe.)

Author(s)

About:

Dr. Ganesh is a 'shatavadhani' and one of India’s foremost Sanskrit poets and scholars. He writes and lectures extensively on various subjects pertaining to India and Indian cultural heritage. He is a master of the ancient art of avadhana and is credited with reviving the art in Kannada. He is a recipient of the Badarayana-Vyasa Puraskar from the President of India for his contribution to the Sanskrit language.

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